Tom Wandell helped the Stars avoid a late collapse on Saturday against the Lightning, as the Swedish center netted the game-winner in overtime to escape the American Airlines Center with a 4-3 victory.
After netting a puck the previous night in the Bolts’ 5-1 victory over the Rangers, Paul Szczechura, playing in just his ninth NHL game this season after being recalled from AHL Norfolk, scored his second goal in as many games to put the game’s first tally on the scoreboard in the second period.
“We [our line] have some speed on our side with those guys [James Wright and Steve Downie] and I think we just kind of use that to our advantage,” Szczechura told television play-by-play announcer Rick Peckham. “We’re just out there to create some energy and to hopefully contribute on the score sheet.”
The Stars, who scored three goals on the night with the man advantage, countered however with their first two just 1:11 apart from Stephane Robidas and Jere Lehtinen, giving Dallas a 2-1 lead heading into the final frame.
“The first period we had a little trouble clicking and connecting, and some penalties in the second period hurt us there at the end,” Lightning defenseman Mike Lundin told Peckham. “We need to get back on the same page. For some reason we were just a little sloppy.”
Brenden Morrow netted the third of Dallas’ power play opportunities at 3:34 to extend the Stars lead after a questionable boarding non-call on Lightning defenseman David Hale.
The Lightning finally got a chance of their own with the one-man edge at 15:06 in the third period. Steven Stamkos took full advantage by scoring his team-leading 17th of the year with a shot from the right circle that cut the deficit in half. Stamkos’ goal was his fifth in his last nine games, and moved him into a tie for third place among NHL goal scorers on the power play.
Jeff Halpern knotted the game at three goals apiece just 47 seconds later by slipping one past the Stars goaltender to force the contest into the extra session.
After blowing the late two-goal lead, Dallas averted disaster as Wandell stopped the bleeding just 2:12 into overtime, scoring the game-winner by finishing an odd-man rush going five-hole on Mike Smith.
The Lightning have recorded at least one point in the second game of all three back-to-back sets this season, going 2-0-1.
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